Mike has retired following a long and fulfilling career, firstly working in local government and then in the private sector.
He commenced working in local government 47 years ago at the Stirling City Council (WA), before moving to roles in Victoria with the Cities of Box Hill (10 years), Whitehorse (1 year) and Bayside (11 years). His roles with the City of Bayside included management roles in Parks and Recreation, Civil Infrastructure and also Property.
In 2006 Mike moved to a role outside of local government and worked for 14 years with Urban Maintenance Systems (UMS), finishing in the role of Executive Manager Ground and Open Space. On reflecting on his career Mike listed the following achievements as highlights:
Mike has also had extensive involvement on a voluntary basis with both PLA and RAIPR (predecessor organisation of PLA). He contributed to both organisations at Conferences and seminars as a speaker, and held the positions of Secretary and President of the Victorian Branch of RAIPR, National Councillor of RAIPR, and National Councillor PLA.
- The development of linear trails and bushland corridors along Gardiners Creek, Koonung Creek and Bushy Creek within the former City of Box Hill
- Facilitation and support for the genesis of the Greenlink network
- Completion of the Bay Trail from Brighton to Beaumaris, including the missing link from Middle Brighton to Elwood
- Redevelopment of the Middle Brighton Baths
- Flood mitigation works and associated landscaping at Elsternwick Park
- Overseeing the development and growth of UMS's National Grounds & Open Space business
- Successful tendering and transitioning of a new and substantial business opportunity with Auckland City Council, including 12 months FIFO!
Mike credits RAIPR with shaping his knowledge and passion for the parks industry when he was starting his career in WA. It provided him with access to eminent members of the sector that he wouldn't have had otherwise. After arriving in Victoria, he attended regular Regional Park Managers Group Meetings that provided him with great support and knowledge about local conditions.
Following 47 years in the industry, Mike has seen many changes and developments, some of which are listed below. This could be a trip down memory lane for some, and a google search for explanation for others!
- Amalgamations creating more dynamic and professional local government authorities (although he thinks in Victoria that we have slipped backwards in the past 10 years!)
- Compulsory Competitive Tendering and service outsourcing providing a greater focus on understanding service standards, measurement of performance and timeliness of delivery
- Increased role of business management and commercial operators in recreation facilities
- Heightened importance of customer service; community consultation; community advocacy versus technical delivery (unsure that the current balance is right!)
- The increased diversity of professional backgrounds now involved in the parks and recreation industry - previously mainly horticulture and recreation qualifications - now architects, landscape architects, engineers, artists, community health workers, youth workers, etc
- Looking at service delivery through a Triple or Quadruple Bottom Line 'lens'
- From slide rule and log tables, to Word Perfect & Lotus 123, to digital works management systems
- From two-way radios to today's mobile telephones
- From journals, conferences, tertiary institutions and libraries for research, new developments and fact finding .... to the Internet!
The things that have given Mike the most pleasure from working in the industry are the opportunities to be involved in the creation of landscapes and facilities that grow and evolve (and to revisit and enjoy these many years later), and watching the career successes of people that he has had the pleasure of employing, guiding and mentoring.
- Tanolith treated pine and metal play equipment have given way to architectural artworks!
- Investment in non-traditional play activities - skate and BMX type facilities; outdoor ping pong!!
- Increase in the utilisation of synthetic playing surfaces
- Investment in reconstruction of turf sportsfields driven by need for increased carrying capacity and 'MCG surface' expectations of users
- From 2,4,5 T and Vorox AA, to Glyphosate and now various organic herbicides
- From clearing urban bushland as rat infested, rubbish tips, to creating urban forests and re-establishing indigenous remnant ecosystems
- From cutting parks with 24" self propelled hand mowers and tractors with slashers, to wide-area computer assisted ride-on mowers
- Current transition from petrol powered hand equipment to battery powered
PLA wishes Mike all the best in his retirement.